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Help In Mathematics For The Visually-Impaired

Mathematics is a very visual subject, dependant on one's ability to read/manipulate symbols, analyze diagrams, and interpret graphs. So, what happens if you happen to be visually-impaired or blind? That is, are there technology tools to help?

First, I would suggest spending some time on Susan Osterhaus' web site. She has been teaching secondary mathematics for 29 years at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin, Texas. Follow her links to read information about:

  • Project Math Access, which focuses on creating opportunities for blind or visually impaired students to succeed in their study of mathematics
  • Overview of the strengths and weaknesses of Nemeth Code
  • Options for creating tactile math graphics
  • Technology options specific to the study and learning of mathematics
  • Adaptive Tools and Technology for Accessible Mathematics
Susan's web site includes a great amount of valuable information. For example, I was introduced to her site via the Powerpoint for her conference presentation Accessible Math Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Use this link and read it as a good start.

Second,one might conside products auch as Math Player, as described on Maria Anderson's blog Teaching College Math Technology Teaching College Math Technology. Maria providers a demo and explains how Math Player is available as a free download from the company Design Science. One big problem is the text being read must be written in MathML, an Explorer plug-in.

Also, for graphic purposes, NASA offers two products called Math Trax and Math Description Engine. Available in both a visual and text version, Math Description Machine is a FREE graphing tool for secondary school students that allows graphing equations, graphing physics simulations, or plotting data files. Each graph includes descriptions and sound so a student can hear and read about the graph, allowing visually-impaired students access to visual mathematics data and graphs. Similarily, software developers can use the Math Description Engine Software Development Kit to make computer-rendered graphs more accessible to blind and visually-impaired users, by adding alternative text and sound descriptions to each graph.

These are just some initial suggestions. If you know of...or better yet, use....other or better options for helping the visually-impaired, please let me know so that the information can be shared.